Saturday, June 24, 2006

IHD Chair Faces 4.5 Years Jail for "Speech"

Trial of IHD Diyarbakir Branch Chair Demirtas for speech on Roj TV begins with prosecutor demanding 4.5 years imprisonment on charge of "propagating for organization". IHD Diyarbakir: "The case is an obstacle to freedom of expression, repression of IHD."

BIA News Center
23/06/2006 BİA (Diyarbakir) - Human Rights Association (IHD) Diyarbakir Branch Chair Selahattin Demirtas appeared at court this week charged with carrying out "propaganda for an outlawed organization" in remarks he made on a program aired by the pro-Kurdish Roj TV.

On June 21, Wednesday, the prosecutor at the 5th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakir demanded from 1.5 to 4.5 years imprisonment for Demirtas under article 220 of the new Penal Code and for him to be banned from public rights and association leadership.

The hearing was adjourned to September 19, 2006, for Demirtas to be given time to prepare his defence.

IHD: Most violations are of our rights

The IHD Diyarbakir Branch said the case was a form of repression of the association and forces of democracy while it was a serious obstacle in front of the freedom of expression.

"Our branch chairman said that [imprisoned PKK leader] Abdullah Ocalan's statement were still being paid heed to by KONGRA-GEL and the Kurds, and that because of this Ocalan could play an important role in ending the clashes and creating a final and lasting peace, but that could only be achieved with him being allowed to meet with his attorneys and family, that the isolation on Ocalan should be lifted."

IHD Branch secretary Ali Akinci told bianet that more than 70 investigations and cases had so far been launched against Demirtas and stressed that the Human Rights Association which fought for human rights was an association whose rights were most violated.

Mayors face ROJ-TV jail too

The case against Demirtas for his speech on Roj-TV comes in the wake of an indictment filed against 56 mayors of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) on charges of assisting the PKK through their actions.

The 56 mayors face up to 10 years imprisonment each if found guilty for a letter they sent collectively to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen where they requested that country not to yield to Turkish pressure and close down Roj-TV.

The indictment prepared by the Diyarbakir Public Prosecutor's Office claimed Roj-TV carried out organizational propaganda and that the December 21, 2005, dated letter of the mayors was a violation of the law serving the interests of an outlawed organization.

In their letter to Rasmussen the mayors said ''the voice of ROJ TV should not be silenced for a real democracy in Turkey. This is the common and sincere request of our people, whom we represent at the level of local government. The abolition of this voice will mean the lost of basic freedoms for democracy, human rights and the struggle for a democratic society''.

Pro-Kurdish activists claim that in addition to the mayors' letter more than 7,000 letters have been sent out by ROJ-TV supporters to Danish authorities asking for them to allow the station to stay open. (TK/II/YE)